An Analysis of Gender Assignment to English Loanwords in Urdu by Shina Speakers


  • Bushra Karim MPhil Scholar, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad
  • Arshad Mahmood National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad
  • Muhammad Iqbal Butt Government Zamindar Postgraduate College, Gujrat


Shina, Urdu, grammatical gender, loan words


The current research reports the grammatical gender Shina speakers assign to English loanwords while using Urdu. Irrespective of their proficiency level, the current study selected those multilingual Shina speakers who could communicate in Shina, Urdu and English. Urdu and Shina make use of grammatical gender, whereas English is generally devoid of it. Some synonymous words in Shina and Urdu have the same gender while others have different gender. The focus of the study was on the issue of assigning gender to gender-neutral English borrowed/loanwords in Urdu. The ‘variation theory’ put forward by Poplack (1993) in the study of language contact phenomena with reference to borrowing was used as the theoretical framework for the present study. For the sake of data collection, survey method was employed and the questionnaire prepared for the purpose was administered among the respondents (n: 50). It was done by firstly taking into account the equivalent words of English loanwords which have the same gender in both languages, since gender to the English loanwords is not assigned randomly rather it primarily corresponds to the gender of their equivalent words in Shina and Urdu; secondly, by considering the words which have different gender in Shina and Urdu as it has been observed that majority of Shina speakers assign the gender of Urdu equivalent words to the loanwords. Thirdly, the study investigated the gender Shina speakers assign to the English loanwords which lack equivalent words in Shina and Urdu and it was found that there was no identifiable pattern though most of the words were treated as feminine.